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I had allergies during most of my childhood. I would often think about what I was allergic to. I had heard about dust mites but I had never seen them.
Could I be allergic to dust mites?
About ten years ago, my immune system was going crazy, reacting to all sorts of things. At first, I thought it was a mental problem so I tried to slow down my life and practice meditation.
Though I found peace within, my immune system continued to act out. Next I looked at my diet and my environment.
Could I be allergic to something around me? Since my body had delayed reactions it was difficult to pinpoint what was causing my pain and I couldn’t come to a definitive conclusion.
Sadly, it took me almost 15 years of confusion and frustration to realize what my allergies were. If I had known about my allergies, I could have made my life much easier by purchasing dust mite covers for my bed, and practicing better household cleanliness.
Below is a helpful guide to assess your symptoms and environment and some protective tips to reduce dust mite allergic symptoms.
The main difference between other environmental allergens like pollen and mold is dust mite allergy symptoms are usually year-round. You’ll likely have at least some of the following symptoms in the spring, summer, fall, and winter.
Many people lose track of the prior season and how they felt. A journal is extremely helpful and can help avoid confusion.
Keeping an allergy journal has paid big dividends for me. I years later I can go back and look at how I felt during specific months. If I always experience the same symptoms in December then I can narrow down what the allergen is.
Primary Symptoms (more common)
If you have dust mite allergy you likely experience a stuffy nose year round. Do you wake up with the sniffles then feel better in the afternoon?
Beds and pillows are notorious for being the primary home for dust mites. A 2 year old pillow can even be up to 1/3 it’s weight in dead dust mites and their feces.
I always had a tough time waking up in the morning but in the afternoon I’d feel much better and my nose would be clear. I’d go to bed and wake up with another stuffy nose. It seems obvious, but I could never figure out why.
Post nasal drip (back of throat coughing and phlegm)
Do you ever have the need to clear your throat? Do you feel a tickling sensation in the back of your mouth and it causes you to cough?
Post nasal drip often occurs in people who have dust mite allergy. Mucous from the sinuses run down the throat and cause irritation.
It’s not painful and many people don’t even notice how often they are clearing their throat. Often it’s other family members who notice the odd behavior and they say something out of concern.
Swollen, itchy eyes and/or ears
When I was young I often woke up in the morning with itchy, swollen eyes, and itchy ears. I had eczema so I attributed it to the disease.
What I didn’t realize was that my eczema was being irritated by my dust mite allergy. I’d go to bed feeling pretty good but wake up with the itchy, swollen feeling again. It was so frustrating and it turns out it was the dust mites making my eczema worse.
Fatigue (due to poor sleep and overactive immune system)
Fatigue is a struggle that most people with allergies face. Growing up I was always tired. My family said it was because I was growing. I did my best to push through the fatigue.
I played sports and exercised a lot so I assumed my fatigue was a result of working hard. In class, I had problems staying alert. I drifted off easily and had problems focusing on the lectures. My mind was often foggy.
If my allergies had to be addressed would I have done better in school? Would I have been able to concentrate better?
Once I was diagnosed and treated for allergies my energy went through the roof. I think it’s because I was sleeping better without a congested nose!
Secondary Symptoms (less common)
Itchy lips, mouth
Many of my symptoms were around the sensitive areas of my body. My eyes, behind my ears, a congested nose. I also experienced symptoms around my mouth. These symptoms were dry and itchy skin, much like eczema.
In high school, I began taking chapstick with me everywhere. I applied 4-5 times per day and wondered why no one else needed chapstick.
At certain times of the year, especially winter, my lips would become red and swollen. I believe it was due to dry winters indoors that made my dust mite allergy worse
Asthma is something I never experienced but dust mites are a common trigger for people with asthma. Asthma can occur simply from breathing in a dusty room. It can make breathing laboring.
If you feel yourself gasping for air in the morning or at night you may be developing allergic asthma.
Some people get a cough confused with post nasal drip. If you find yourself with a dry cough but don’t have cold-like symptoms then it could mean your airways are inflamed.
Inhaling dust mites, especially at night, can cause cough-like symptoms. The cough usually subsides later in the day but reappears when indoors.
Eczema and rashes (though not bites)
Dust mites don’t bite. If you have bite marks it may be from bed bugs, fleas, or a spider.
Dust mites cause diffuse rashes in the form of eczema. I’ve experienced eczema my whole like and much of my problem was that allergies made my eczema worse.
The itchy skin I experienced on my eyes, around my mouth, and behind my ears was mostly eczema. I also developed eczema on my neck and inner elbows.
If you visit your GP or a dermatologist they may tell you the eczema isn’t an allergy – this is what I was told for years. As it turned out, my eczema and allergies were closely related.
Body itching in bed or when sitting on fabric (beds, carpets, couches)
Sitting on a fabric couch or carpet can often provide immediate symptoms if you have a moderate-severe dust mite allergy. You’re at risk on any fabrics. My niece carries around a dust mite-free blanket to put on top of old couches and carpets. It she doesn’t use it she’ll get itchy.
Leather couches and tile, wood, or laminate floors are best for people with allergies.
Am I Allergic To Dust Mites
Looking back, I should have known. I ignored the symptoms because I thought I would improve. I also thought “I’d just push through”.
My failure to recognize my allergies caused me to feel horrible and for 10 years my symptoms slowly became worse.
Hopefully, you don’t experience what I felt. The fatigue was the worst. I’d sleep 10 hours and wake up exhausted, but it became my new normal. I became used to it and pushed through, telling my self I’d snap out of it.
Through the pain, I learned more about myself and how I felt. It took a long time to realize that something was wrong and the energy I feel now is a wonderful feeling.
Am I Allergic To Dust Mites: Getting Allergy Tested
To discover my allergens I made an appointment with an allergist and was tested for a spectrum (over 100) of environmental allergens. The test included dust mites, animals, molds, grasses, weeds, and trees. My tests came back positive to most of the items, but especially for dust mites!
In addition to starting a long-term solution, allergy shots (a process where you take gradual shots of the things you are allergic to – allergy shots are NOT cortisone shots) I learned from my allergist how I could reduce dust mite presence in my home and get relief.
Allergy To Dust Mites: Preventative Action
My immediate action included purchasing quality and affordable dust mite covers for my bed. Even though we can’t see them (invisible to the eye) dust mites are primarily found in bed, so covers will keep us from breathing in the critters and greatly reduce exposure.
A 2-year old pillow can be made up of 10% dust mites and their feces and using a cover can reduce your symptoms overnight. Dust mites also live in blankets and mattresses, so using dust mite proof covers will be of great help.
My allergist also advised to wash bedding weekly and use vacuum with a HEPA filter. A HEPA filter captures extra fine particles in the air that normal vacuums don’t. Ordinary vacuums capture only big dust particles and end up blowing dust mites around the home – making allergies worse!
Steps to get relief from dust mites:
- Cover pillows with dust mite-proof covers
- Use a HEPA vacuum cleaner weekly
- Get rid of carpeting if possible
- Wash bedding 1x weekly with special essential oils
- Make a DIY essential oil spray for your home that kills dust mites
- Replace HVAC filters with high-quality allergy filters
- Keep pets outside (tough one I know)
- Switch out fabric furniture for leather
An important step you can take to reduce dust mites blowing around your home is to use high-quality HVAC filters. Most people think air conditioning and heating filters are all the same.
This is far from the truth and the cheapest filters are almost pointless, catching little if anything.
Filtrete makes high-quality filters that can protect from allergens, including smoke and odors. Using quality filters in the winter and summer will ensure that you’re breathing fresh, clean air – the EPA states that indoor air can be up to 10 times worse than outdoor air.
DIY sprays made from natural products are a great way to kill dust mites on the surface of beds, couches and floors/carpets.
Learn how to make a DIY spray here – its chemical free and cheap compared to what you can buy in stores!
Until I was tested by a reputable allergist, I was so confused about my allergies. Being tested gave me understanding and confidence that I could improve.
If you are interested in being tested, I suggest searching for an allergy specialist and requesting a broad-spectrum test of aeroallergens. So many people have allergies and most people don’t address the problem or settle for taking expensive medication for the rest of their lives.
My allergist has helped me by addressing my environment and the allergy shots, which I’ve been getting for 4 years, have reduced my allergy symptoms by 65%. I can finally breathe through my nose, I experience less fatigue, and fewer rashes.
Dust mite allergies affect people in different ways. The primary symptoms usually involve the sinuses, including the nose, eyes, ears, and throat.
Fatigue, asthma, rashes are also connected to dust mite allergy.
To get immediate relief, address your bedding – pillow, blankets, and mattress. Cover them to protect yourself at night. Also, consider frequent washing of sheets, and vacuuming with a HEPA filter.
If you have furniture, think about changing to leather couches instead of dust mite friendly fabric. DIY sprays can naturally freshen up your home while killing dust mites.
Lastly, if you are really suffering, consider making an appointment with a certified allergist. An allergist can confirm what you are allergic to and suggest a variety of options such as environmental control, medicine, and potentially allergy shots.
Professional advice will help to control allergies and reduce dust mite presence.
Dust Mite Solutions hopes this article helped your search for “Am I allergic to dust mites”. We aim to provide the best advice, reviews, and products for people suffering from allergies.